Nikki Wilson
4 Apr, 2022
What works in supporting our future creative workforce? Opportunities coming to help Chelmsford LCEP find out

In a recent blog I shared the “Story so far” of Chelmsford’s Local Cultural Education Partnership (LCEP) and things are now ramping up as Rachana Vaja joins us as the Programme Manager, ready to roll out the initial two year programme of research, governance set up, and a key project – the Incubator.

The LCEP’s vision is “Building on Chelmsford’s strength and heritage in innovation, providing all Children and Young People sustainable and accessible cultural and creative opportunities that broaden their horizons and support them to reach their potential.”

Along with nurturing and strengthening the existing creative and cultural provision for children and young people, we’re keen to explore how the LCEP can catalyse new ideas. To work towards this, the LCEP is going to deliver a 9-month incubator programme.

The incubator programme will deliver support for 5-7 projects focusing on ideas based around “developing cultural and creative career pathways and skills for work” and provide a share of £12,500 of seed funding. The 9-month period will include 1-1 support, Action Learning sets, support to develop Arts Award-ready projects and a reference group to help drive and shape the ideas. We’ll be keeping the time commitments light to generate ideas from the widest possible range of projects.

What’s different about the incubator?

The incubator has a learning focus, on two levels:

  • To develop the LCEP’s understanding of the potential for peer-support-based incubators to stimulate and enhance the delivery of creative and cultural opportunities.
  • To generate evidence on “what works” (and potentially what doesn’t) in supporting children and young people’s creative and cultural careers pathways and skills for work.

The emphasis will be on piloting and experimenting, perhaps just on testing a small element of what might become a bigger initiative in the future, rather than delivering tried and tested methods. While we’ll be looking for Project Leads to be confident their idea will work, we’re fully expecting that some things won’t, or there might be changes and adjustments midway.

Similarly, the funding is intended to kickstart ideas and generate learning rather than deliver completed programmes of activity.


We know that there’s an abundance of great ideas but getting them off the ground can be tricky. Funding is often focused on “low risk” projects and for some having a support structure is an integral part of building the confidence to put some of those ideas into action.

We also know that creative skills will be essential to Chelmsford’s future workforce both in creative and cultural career pathways and in all other aspects of work. Finding ways to better nurture them was a strong theme in our early idea generation sessions and is a unifying goal for our multiple stakeholders.

Time to get thinking…

We’ll be looking for projects that:

  • Are new, or new to Chelmsford – so if there’s a great initiative you’ve seen elsewhere and you think it could be tested in Chelmsford, now’s the time to explore how that could work.
  • Have a clear long-term ambition and vision for scaling, including ideas on how this could be funded.
  • Are focused on testing and learning, with a plan to gather insight and data to explore “unknowns” during the project. This could include testing new funding models and strategies.

What next?

We’re currently working on the details of the selection criteria, guidance, and application process but we know that developing great ideas can take some time and are keen to stimulate the thought process now.

We’ll be sharing more details in the coming weeks including some research and case studies to inspire your thinking. Applications will open in June and for the 9-month programme to run from September 2022 to June 2023.

In the meantime, you can join as an LCEP member – it’s free and open to all, both individuals and organisations. You can find out more about the LCEP and how to become a member here.

If you have any questions about the LCEP please contact


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